Bonnerdale Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of Bonnerdale, Arkansas

The Work Begins

Arthur Lee McCoy and Ava Etta (Hopkins) McCoy with their family. L to R: Earl, Arthur holding Jewell and Joe, Arnold, Ava holding Avalee, and Prue (Ancestry, 2017).

The work in this area really began when Joseph Franklin McCoy moved from Louisville, Kentucky, to Lucky, Arkansas, in 1878. There, Joseph married and raised his family. Joseph, had begun keeping the Sabbath from reading his Bible. He then sent for Adventist tracts, papers, and books, and accepted the third angel’s message. Joseph was arrested and persecuted for violating the Sunday laws that were in effect at that time. Following that, he and his wife with their three boys, organized the first Sabbath school in this area. They brought in their neighbors and friends with their children and studied the Bible together. Soon Charley Ewing and his family began keeping the Sabbath. Seventh-day Adventist ministers would visit occasionally, among whom were Elders Beckner and Ellington Beck Hopkins (McCoy, 1910).

Lucky Church Organized in 1906

Elder Volney B. Watts ca. 1908

In the fall of 1906, Elder Henry Clay Griffin and H. L. Parker held meetings at Lucky, and in November, Elder Griffin baptized some and organized a church of seven members, mostly from the McCoy and Ewing families. The members had already built a little church in a pine grove between the two families, which was not quite finished but they were meeting in it (Griffin, 1906). The church continued to prosper and grow rapidly and at the twentieth annual session of the Arkansas Conference in July 1907, Lucky was admitted as a church (Record, 1907). From 1909 to 1912, Elder Volney B. Watts did pastoral evangelism especially around Lucky and Fort Smith. By 1910, Lucky was the second largest church in the conference (McCoy, 1910). The little community of Lucky no longer exists, but by 1931 the church became known as the Bonnerdale Church (Hopkins, 1931).

A New Church in 1941

In 1941, the Bonnerdale members completed a new church that was quite large and accommodated more seating than their previous building (Record, 1941). The church was dedicated on November 29, 1941.

Photo courtesy of Don Hevener.

A New Church in 2005

At the end of 1976, Irvin and Evea J. Bainum donated property on which to build a new church and school. The school and Ewing Auditorium were built first. The congregation met in the new auditorium for the first time on December 22, 1979, and the school opened for the 1980-1981 school year (Record, 1979). In 2003, Bonnerdale finalized plans for a new 10,176 square foot sanctuary with the old sanctuary to be razed. They began work on the foundation in June (Shafter, 2003; cf. Minutes, 2002). In November 2005, members formally moved into their new facility. At the end of November 2006, they celebrated the congregation’s first 100 years (Winton, 2006).

Baptism in the unfinished Bonnerdale church on December 25, 2004 (Record, 2005).
Bonnerdale church on Adventist Church Road in Bonnerdale, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton.


(1907, Aug. 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.

(1941, Nov. 11). Ibid., p. 3.

(1976, Dec. 17). Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Conference Association. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1979, Dec. 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 12F.

(2002, Dec. 5). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(2005, May). Southwestern Union Record, p. 8.

Ancestry Family Trees. (2017, May 3). Arthur Lee McCoy. Retrieved from

Griffin, H. Clay. (1906, Nov. 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.

Hopkins, E. B. (1931, May 6). Ibid., p. 3.

McCoy, Ava L. (1910, Oct. 11). Ibid., p. 4.

Shafter, Dennis. (2003, July). Newsletter, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 3.

Winton, Tonya S. (2006, December) Southwestern Union Record, p. 11.

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